F1 world labelled ‘unbelievably ruthless’ with ‘horrendous’ actions over driver moves

Henry Valantine
Start of the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix.

View from behind of a grand prix start.

With the summer being the time attention begins to turn onto drivers without F1 contracts for next season, a professional driver has offered insight into the world of how securing a deal can work – and it isn’t always pretty.

2015 Le Mans winner Richard Bradley explained that he has heard plenty of anecdotes from the Formula 1 paddock of where drivers are left high and dry, so much so that it has made him “question the sport sometimes”.

Given the way drivers have had their services dispensed with in the past and stories of false promises made, it is hardly surprising that the F1 driver market requires a “ruthless” mentality.

F1 driver market is ‘brutal’ for those involved

Bradley has raced against a multitude of ex-Formula 1 talents in times gone by and currently works as an advisor to Super Formula driver Cem Bolukbasi, and can attest to how tough it can be to get by in the F1 paddock.

With the power dynamics heavily skewed in favour of the teams over the drivers, it leaves plenty of people without a seat every year, with “politics” in play at every turn.

“You have to be unbelievably ruthless and unbelievably thick skinned. And it’s brutal; really, really brutal,” Bradley explained about the world of the driver market on the latest episode of the On Track GP Podcast.

“And it’s something I really don’t like because, don’t get me wrong, it’s a performance sport and everything, everybody in that game will do everything they can to possibly win.

“But there are some horrendous things that good people end up doing in Formula 1, and stories I’ve heard over the years which I probably can’t repeat on here, but it’s really not cool. It makes you really, really question the sport sometimes.

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“But it’s like anything, whenever pressure and money gets involved in then certain things happen -and it’s always like that.

“And the problem is, it’s very different to football, whereas in football, the players kind of have more power than the teams because there are so many teams out there who want certain players, Formula 1 is very, very different.

“Because until you get yourself into a position of say, Lewis [Hamilton] or Fernando [Alonso], or someone like that… the problem is, you know that there’s about 6000 people who want your job, and there’s only 20 seats.

“There are all sorts of politics and everything that gets involved. It’s not based on pure performance.”

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